The cookbook – a sprint review

I’ve been cargo-culting Agile for the book, so it figures that I should do a similarly feckless travesty of a sprint review.

For those less well acquainted with the big entitlement bouncy castle that is much of modern software development, Agile is a project management methodology that chunks stuff out into tractable, iterative units, and empowers teams to make a bunch of decisions about their work. It’s funky and flexible, and goes some way to handing the workers control of the means of production. Champagne socialism with post-it notes.

Look, that’s a terrible explanation. But the point is you can break something (like a cookbook) into discrete tasks, track their progress in chunks of work, and correct on the fly. A “sprint” is an agreed unit of time in which you try to get a bunch of shit done, and have something working at the end. Then you review.

Sprint review

My review in summary: oh fuck.

Overall progress

In the last three-ish weeks I’ve been cooking fairly intensively. At the start, I had 48 “tasks” on the board (bedroom wall), each representing a recipe. Four of these fell off. One of them literally, I can’t find it, and I’m buggered if I’m checking the hoover bag. Let’s hope it was something boring. The other three were a bit samey or dull.

Of the remaining 44 recipes, I needed to check the quantities, methods, and timings, take useable photographs, and write up decent instructions.

Not included in the done criteria is anything fancy like layout and typesetting. I’m going to batch that up as a separate set of tasks.

Spring onion & courgette tartAll of the recipes are existing ones from the blog. New recipe development is also a separate set of tasks. I reckon I’ll need about 30.

That means that some of the dishes already had useable photos, or checked quantities. The recipes on the blog are, however, wildly inconsistent; so only about two things could go straight through to done.

I’ve cooked and checked 32 out of the 44, which isn’t that bad.

Three are stalled because I couldn’t find the ingredients, and that leaves nine. Theoretically, I could finish before Monday when my time’s up. But at this point I’m not sure that’s realistic.

What’s gone well?

73% complete ain’t that bad for a first pass.

Nothing caught fire or poisoned anybody. That’s always a bonus.

Nothing’s been a total write-off, and most things have worked pretty well. I think I made my best ever onion soup, too. Broadly, it’s been enjoyable, and not felt massively like hard work. But then, I’ve taken it quite easy. Somehow, I’ve even lost weight. That one surprised me. It’s probably the mad, paranoiac gym attendance.

I think I’ve learned a bit about photography, too. There’s a work in progress album here:

What’s gone badly?

73% complete ain’t the full story, either. Less slacking next time, Roger.

There’s a fuck-tonne of technical debt, too. Most things are stalled under “written up”, where I’ve got the bones of a recipe – photo, details, and a write up on the blog – but not a final text. Measured properly, I’m actually 20% done. But an afternoon of knuckling down to write will fix that up, so I think we know what Sunday looks like.

The lighting and food styling for many of the photos is sub-par. That’s something to work on. In fact, I’ll need to re-do a fair few. But I’m learning.

The kale and garlic pizza gave me rambunctious indigestion.

What’s next?

The last of the backlog
The last of the backlog

Pay down the debt – I need to finish the write ups, and cook the remaining dishes.

Then it’s time to plan the next phase. There are two big chunks to go: new recipe development, and production tasks. The first one will take some time and tinkering, but I’ve got a list of ideas. The second is all the layout stuff, plus some editing and eBook wrangling.

The rest will be evenings and weekends, so it’ll take a bit longer. I’ll probably stick with the three-week sprint, and shoot for eight to ten new recipes. I’ll post a couple, too.

The obvious omission is testing.

Testing wasn’t part of my done criteria – I didn’t think it was practical to ask somebody else to cook every single one of my recipes before I signed off on it. But something like that will have to come. I’ll probably package up a subset and sling them out to willing volunteers for ¬†beta testing and feedback.

Leave a comment if you’d like to help out with that.

Lamb stew with sour pickling spices

6 thoughts on “The cookbook – a sprint review”

  1. Another potential tester, as long as it isn’t any of that foreign muck.

    (Actually, the foreign is fine. I just needs to be free of lactose)

  2. Thanks everyone – that’s really touching.

    Ellis – there’s quite a bit of dairy in the book, but a lot of it can be substituted, and I’ll be including notes on that wherever it’s sensible.

  3. I’ll happily volunteer Niall to cook and the both of us to test the end product… (Niall has been checked with).

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